29-38

Right now the question for the Mariners isn’t what can be fixed, but what can stay the same?

As we look to the next 90+ games of the season, we see that the Mariners only need to play 9 games over .500 to finish at .500. That’s a very doable number.

Let’s take a look at what can stay the same for Seattle going through the rest of the season.

 

Our 1-2 punch. Dare I say that right now Iwakuma might be the best pitcher in the American League? Obviously Max Scherzer is pushing it at 9-0, but simply put Hisashi does not let people reach base on him. With Felix atop the rotation and Kuma right behind, the Mariners can bank on doing pretty well with those two on the mound.

The ‘new’ young core. Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino are going to make a difference. Now, I’ll be honest and say I’m worried about Zunino’s defense after seeing him play against Oklahoma City a month ago. However, in the long term, he is going to learn a lot from Kelly Shoppach, who has caught his fair share of rotations. Shoppach can start two games out of every five, because Kuma’s ERA is below 2 when Shoppach is catching and then he can catch one other time during the week. It seems that Joe Saunders can have anybody catch him since he’s giving up a lot of runs consistently. The most important thing is letting these two guys get at-bats. If they don’t, then it’ll be tough for them to succeed at the major league level. Let Zunino catch Felix, Harang, and Bonderman and he can be great. There’s nothing bad about catching three veterans, especially when he caught Jeremy at Tacoma.

Our middle relievers. I’ll be the first to say Wilhelmsen should be the 6th inning guy at this point, but Furbush, Capps, and Medina are becoming a decently well-oiled machine in the middle. Wedge needs to work harder to play the matchups because we have depth in the pen. Sooner rather than later, we’ll have Pryor back and he can be our 8th inning with Capps closing games out. While he was hittable early on, his slider is WIPEOUT good and he can overpower others.

The veteran leadership. While some of these guys aren’t hitting or have let Father Time pass them, there is no doubt that guys like Raul, Endy, and Jason Bay are going to help the development of those around them. With no real infield veterans to depend on other than Kendry, those that are infielders (Seager, Franklin, Smoak) need to take advice from who they have around them and use it to their full advantage.

 

While it’s hard to be positive about 29-38, it’s also more time-consuming being negative about the future. As Mariners fans, we must take heed in the fact that we have had great years and we have had awful years. Hopefully soon enough, it’ll get better.

Within the week, look for an article about what I feel would be the best changes for the Mariners going forth this year and into next.

The End Of The Rotation

The last two nights have been painful. While all my predictions could still come true about the Mariners, it isn’t going to happen while Beavan and Maurer are our 5 and 4. Sadly, I thought Maurer would come in and make a difference much like Pineda did a few seasons ago. The problem is that hitters already have the scouting report on him and his slider. If you see slider, don’t swing or let it hang.

0-2, 6.2 IP, 15 H, 12 ER, 2 HR, 3:1 SO:BB and he’s thrown 110 pitches in two starts. Talk about the disappointment. His line might be better, might be worse if he doesn’t take a liner off the thigh on Tuesday night. Yet it doesn’t really get much worse to start a major league career. In the upcoming future, I don’t know what the Mariners will do as it pertains to Maurer. We don’t have anybody at Tacoma that is ready to go if he can’t start. Kameron Loe has shockingly been a disappointment (All the sarcasm), so he can’t start. We just have to wait on Maurer to come around and fix his mechanics on a major-league mound.

As it goes with Beavan… he let Houston rock him. Obviously, they have put together their bats as of late, but Beavan does not have major league stuff and we keep putting him on the mound. It’s disappointing. I’m ready for our young guys to develop.

Here’s to hoping Felix gets a much deserved win tonight against Texas.

Derek’s Bold Predictions

Now that Kevin was able to give you all a sense of what he thinks is going to happen, let me give you a bit of my brain to chew on.

The Mariners do better than .500. In a division with the Astros (who we see 19 times) and the Angels, who are SUPER overrated because of the money Moreno can throw around, we can win some games. I see us going 13-6 against Houston, 11-8 against Anaheim, 12-7 against Texas, and 8-11 against Oakland. That’s a 44-32 division record, which is incredibly respectable.

That leaves 86 games out of the division. For us to reach .500, we have to win 38 of those games. Seems easily attainable for us. Interleague play helps us a lot as well as we go 10-8. That means we only need to win 28 American League games outside of the division to finish .500. I like those odds.

Let’s talk rotation. Felix is Felix. He will contend for the Cy Young all year with Darvish, Jarrod Parker, and Verlander… pulling away at the end due to a successful August/September, which includes a 2.42 ERA, a 8-1 record, and a shutout of either St. Louis or Detroit in mid-September to help keep the Mariners in the chase.

The rest of the rotation is really up in the air. Iwakuma can continue to get groundballs and win, finishing 12-7. Saunders goes 11-10 while eating 225 innings. Maurer gets Rookie of the Year in the AL for his sparkling 15-9 record and a 3.24 ERA. Beavan gets demoted to the bullpen or Tacoma once Hultzen catches fire at Tacoma.

The offense is of course always the question. Kevin went out on a limb and said that Smoak was going to be insanely good this year. I honestly need to see it to believe it. He struggles far too much out of the gate and into May to make it a question. Smoak becomes the best pinch-hitter on the team alongside Bay and Kendrys takes over at first eventually.

Speaking of Kendrys, he hits .307 with 31 HR and 106 RBI. Best season for a Mariner in a long time. Mike Morse follows that up with a .314 average, 28 HR and 97 RBI.

Dustin Ackley hits .290. It’s going to happen.

Kyle Seager hits .275 with 50 doubles.

Brendan Ryan wins a Gold Glove (FINALLY), while hitting .210.

Jason Bay and Raul combine to hit 25 homers, but at a clip of .233.

Michael Saunders continues his hot hitting and finally goes 20/20, if not 25/25.

Guti gets hurt and the Mariners cut him loose at the end of the year.

Morse and Kendrys resign and stay in Seattle.

The bullpen wins more games than it loses and Wilhelmsen has 35+ saves with a sub-3 ERA.

The Mariners will trade one of the big three (Sorry, James), along with Nick Franklin and Carlos Peguero to find a consistent OF (Giancarlo, Seattle isn’t that bad!) after trading Casper Wells in the next ten days.

Overall, Oakland wins the division by three games at 91-71. The Mariners finish 88-74. Anaheim finishes 81-81. Texas and Houston both finish below .500.

Most of you will think I’m crazy for having Texas below .500, but beyond Darvish… they have no pitching worthwhile. Did you all see Harrison get lit up last night by Houston?! C’mon.

Here’s a full breakdown of who we play and my projected record:

Houston: 13-6

Texas: 12-7

Anaheim: 11-8

Oakland: 8-11

Baltimore: 2-4

Toronto: 2-4

Tampa Bay: 3-3

Yankees: 5-2

Red Sox: 3-4

White Sox: 3-3

Detroit: 4-3

Indians: 5-2

Minnesota: 3-4

KC: 4-3

San Diego: 2-2

Pittsburgh: 2-0

Cubs: 2-1

Reds: 1-2

Milwaukee: 2-1

STL: 1-2

2013 Mariners Bold Predictions

With the season two days away, I want to take the time to make a few predictions about the 2013 version of the Seattle Mariners. So here we go:

Justin Smoak will finally come into his own from both sides of the plate and have a career year. I foresee 26 homeruns, 95 rbi’s, a .270 batting average. Oh and he will win the gold glove for first base.

The Mariners will finish the season in the top 5 in homeruns, top 10 in runs, and top 5 in both team ERA and fielding. The fences moving in will hurt the pitching staff a little, but not enough to knock them out of the top 5.

Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse will both club 30, but will not be the only ones producing. Along with those two and Smoak the Mariners will see Seager, Saunders and Montero all hit 20 homeruns. Ibanez will do the damage from the bench with 15 followed by Gutierrez and Ackley with 10. Sorry Brendan but you will be lucky to hit 5.

Brandon Maurer, not Iwakuma, will end the season as the second best pitcher in the Mariners rotation and will start the wild card play in game.

Might as well throw it out there now the Mariners will be one of the two wild card teams in the American League.

Blake Beaven will struggle out of the gate and barely make it to the end of the may with a sub 5.00 era. Danny Hultzen, who will finish the year with 10 wins, will replace him.

Eric Wedge is named Manager of the year, Smoak the comeback player, and Maurer the Rookie of the year.

King Felix will be just that once again as he captures his second CY Young award finishing with an amazing 23-5 record.

Tom Wilhelmsen will finish the year top 3 in saves, with an era sub 2.00.

The Mariners will win 90 games and fall just one game short of winning the division on the last day of the year to the Athletics.

This team is much improved this year and really is significantly better than any team that I have seen suit up for the Mariners in about 11 years. If this team carries over the confidence from the Cactus League to the regular season the American League West better watch out.

Battle 2013: 4th Outfield Spot

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The most intriguing situation to watch this spring is what is going to happen to Jason Bay. With Saunders most likely slated into the left field starting job and Guti, when healthy, slated to start in center, it leaves right field the only “open” competition. I say it like that because we can be fairly certain that the recently reacquired Mike Morse.  I was all about Jason Bay about 4 or 5 years ago. I realize that Bay was playing in Pittsburgh and then Boston, when he was putting up gaudy numbers, but its not like he was a terrible ball player.

Bay crippled his career when he went to the play for the NY Mets at Citi Field. From 2004 – 2009 Bay averaged 30 hr/99 rbi / .280 BA. On any team those are pretty darn good numbers. On the Mariners during that same span Jason Bay would have been a super star. When Bay went over to the Mets things changed. The last three years have been marred by injuries, unfriendly confines, and falling out of favor with the team. He struggled averaging 9 hr/ 41 rbi/.234 BA. I choose to believe that if Bay is healthy, that he could potentially bring some pop to the team, especially now that the dimensions at Safeco Field have become more hitter friendly (or so they say).

I’m not saying that Bay should make this team. I am a sucker for the guy, as he is a graduate of Gonzaga University, but that is not reason enough for him to make the team. We have younger players on the team that have higher upside. We have been heading in the right direction, and I am a fan of how our outfield is projecting. Saunders showed a huge leap last year in his offense and should continue to improve this season. Gutierrez can be little better than average bat and brings a defense that is unmatched (in the outfield) on the team. Right field will probably be the best offense that the team sees. Morse brings a quality power hitting right hander that could help to take some pressure off of our younger guys.

So it comes down to that forth outfield spot. My guess is that it will come down between Jason Bay and Casper Wells. Wells has not done a whole lot in his young career, but really has never been given a chance. Wells is more versatile and can play all three positions, whereas Bay is pretty limited and his defense can be subject at times. I like both players and would have no problem with either player being on the team. In the end, just like any other, it will come down to the player who puts the Mariners in the best position to win.

 

Something To Look Forward To.

The King

As I read through the drudges of the baseball interwebs, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people hate the deal that the Mariners just shelled out to Felix Hernandez. First off, I can’t take internet trolls seriously. Secondly, this is the best thing to happen to Seattle baseball since Ichiro’s single-season hit record. Thirdly, I’m not kidding.

The baseball fans of the Seattle Mariners needed something to cling onto. In 1995, the fans and the team refused to lose and believed in Sodo Mojo. In 2001, the team took Ichiro in and had a modern-day win record. Minus the postseason failure of running into a very-hot Yankees team, we still relish that. When Ichiro broke George Sisler’s record, we made sure he was ours to keep (look where that got us).

When Felix took a barely .500 record and won the Cy Young, we knew we had to lock him up and we did. Then when he threw the perfecto against Tampa Bay, we knew we had to lock him up even longer. The tragedies that have occurred to Mariners fans are undeniable, yet the success and happiness is indescribable. I was 6 years old in 1995, yet when I hear Niehaus call The Double, I well up with tears. I screamed at the computer last year when Pineda was traded for Montero. I was sad yet ecstatic when Vargy got dealt for Morales this offseason. I long for Justin Smoak to play like every month is September. I want Seager and Ackley to take us to the promised land like they did at UNC-Chapel Hill. I want Felix to be the leader for Danny, Brandon, James, and Taijuan.

I look back upon those that we have seen come and go in the last twenty-plus years: Junior, A-Rod, The Big Unit, Bret Boone, Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Tino Martinez, and all of those we dealt before they hit their potential. I realize one thing about them. Even though they may have loved Seattle, there was something that needed to change for them or the organization. In the long run, Mariners fans will remember those players and then some, but also know that Junior, Edgar, and the King will be wearing Seattle hats in the Hall of Fame. (Maybe Randy, but he has to choose between the team that loved him or the team that he built his legacy on in Arizona.)

Mariners fans needed this signing like a long-term relationship needs a wedding. It’s the end point for now and a happy one at that. Whether Felix has elbow issues or not, we made an investment not only to please Felix or the organization, but the fans as well. He is, and always will be, our King.

King of the Safe for life?

We sit here about 5 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to the start of spring training, Mariner fans all around the world have something to rejoice about. As of yesterday if was reported that The King, Felix Hernandez, has signed a 5 year $135.5M extension. This is a huge statement by both the organization and by Felix. By signing this extension, the team locks in arguably the most popular player in the past 10 seasons. ( I say arguably due to Ichiro being such a staple for our team too) By signing the extension Felix will hold true to his word of wanting to spending his career here in Seattle. Of course he will have the opportunity to bolt in 7 years at the age of 33, but if this deal is any indication of his seriousness about his devotion to the Mariners, then we have nothing to worry about. As Buster Olney points out Felix is one of the few Mariner players to continue to make Seattle his home in the off season. He also took the time to compare Felix to the Iron man himself, Cal Ripkin Jr.

You are going to have your naysayers on this contract, the size, then length, the fact that it takes up a quarter of this years $90 million budget. To which I respond:
Who else in the organization are we going to pay to this magnitude? I doubt anyone for quite awhile. I could potentially see Mike Zunino garnering this size of a contract in 6 years as long as he lives up to his well deserved hype.

Why give him 7 years? At 26 Felix is just entering his prime and has some elite years ahead of him. A quick little comparison for your statistical side:

Player A: .646 win% , 2.98 era , 1221 K’s , 9.6 so/9 , 3.27 so/bb
Player B: .566 win% , 3.25 era , 1410 K’s , 8.3 so/9 , 3.09 so/bb
Player C: . 748 win% , 2.50 era , 1640 K’s , 10.8 so/9 , 5.67 so/bb

Player B is Felix Hernandez over the his first 7 full years of his career. These are pretty fantastic numbers for a guy who has pretty much been the one consistent pitcher. Player A is Pedro Martinez over the first 7 full years of his career. They were both the same age and played for relatively similar teams who seemed to occupy the cellar in their respective leagues and divisions. What you are probably wondering is who Player C is.

Player C is also Pedro Martinez. His statistical line is from the next 7 years of his career show that he did enter his prime between the ages of 26 and 33. The hope is now that Felix can do the same. I would expect his winning percentage to increase by a bit especially with the Mariners offense being bolstered through the trading market.

The Mariners should be pleased with the situation they are creating with this extinction. Only time will tell, but we can be hopeful!

My New Obsession with Major League Equivalencies

I decided to work through some Major League Equivalencies for the newest Mariners additions to the roster. Sadly, even though Safeco is a pitcher’s park (or used to be at least… we’ll see next year…) the players that I’ve looked through won’t have much of an impact.

The way I calculated the math is by working out their 162 game average. So for Kendry Morales, who played in 134 games, I figured out what he would hit if he played all 162 games for Anaheim last year. Then I entered it in with the ballpark factor for Safeco Field. Let’s start with some bench additions and continue onward all the way through Mike Morse.

Robert Andino was brought to the Mariners as a defensive addition, no bones about it. So when he hit .210 for Baltimore last year, I wasn’t too upset. He lacks power, as noticed by his .280 SLG% last year and that will actually go up at Safeco. According to MLE, he will end up with the same amount of extra base hits with fewer total hits on the year. Interesting that Safeco would only affect his hits, not his “power” or lack of it.

Jason Bay is an interesting case. Coming from Canada and Gonzaga, I love him dearly. However, as a ball player, he has been extremely poor since he left Boston. The strains of a big contract, eh? Well, Bay did hit for good power last year when he actually hit the ball. Right around a fourth of his hits went out of the park. Mind you he had 32 hits in 194 AB all season for a .165 average. His power is very isolated to being a pull hitter and the new fences at Safeco will make him a bit of a threat. In a full 448 AB, he would have hit 18 homers last year and I believe he will find more time as a PH in the all-year Interleague games. Hopefully, he can find some success with the power and not worry about his average.

Raul Ibanez can be a threat. Just ask the Orioles. In 130 games, he hit 19 homers, hit .238, and only struck out twice for every walk. The average isn’t there, but the intangibles of a patient hitter are and that is something Seattle has been looking for. A full season does not show much for Raul in the way of how Yankee Stadium played comparatively to Safeco, but if he can get about 400 AB in , he has the capability to be a 20-25 HR guy in the AL still. Safeco’s numbers have him hitting .234/.297/.435, which for the power is worth giving him the AB, especially a bit farther down in the lineup. Obviously, the defense will be a problem, but rotating him in different positions every game might make that easier.

Kendry Morales. To me, he is our big pickup of the offseason. Yes, we traded Vargy for him, but he gives us a real threat at first base. If we can get him 550-600 plate appearances, Kendry, according to MLE, would hit .264/.308/.449 with 25 HR and 85 RBI with some shotty defense. As a Mariners fan, I will take that WITH the 140 strikeouts that will come with it. Morales has high upside even with the injured leg that has come full circle now that he is in Seattle. With a full season in Anaheim, his numbers go up by about one in every category, so we can expect that a healthy Kendry will give us 20-25 home runs and be our clean-up hitter with no questions asked.

And now on to the puzzling addition of Mike Morse. In the first place, we didn’t give him enough time nor enough AB to really come into his own in Seattle. Now that we have him back, can we deal some prospects for Asdrubal again? Anywho, Morse’s numbers stay EXACTLY the same from Nationals Park to Safeco Field. Offensively, we can expect that he will get on base, hit between .275-300, and hit 20-25 home runs. Now, does this sound like a guy worth giving up our best catcher for? Not really, because it seems that Raul and Kendry will do the same sort of hitting, but this will give us the ability to deal Smoak to someone for an innings-eater, which we really need.

Overall, it is expected that the combined WAR of these players will be 5.2. Not too horrible. Only Bay came in with a negative WAR and Morales and Morse can be 2+ WAR guys if not higher.

Do I expect all of this to happen? HAHAHAHA. Absolutely not. I just like plugging in numbers and finding projections. I think Morales will be a 30-HR/100-RBI guy with Morse and Seager hitting around him. Raul can do some things for Seattle and bring veteran leadership to the clubhouse. I bet Bay doesn’t even make it out of Spring Training. Andino will probably be replaced by Nick Franklin at some point as the Willie Bloomquist of the group.

In all honesty, I want Morse to succeed and Zunino to make the club out of Spring Training. That in itself would be a huge step forward.

Dodging the Proverbial Bullet

Last night could have been an absolutely rough night for me. Not only did Gonzaga blow a 20 point lead to St. Mary’s, they almost lost. But also, Justin Upton turned down a trade to the Mariners that I, in the long run, am thankful for.

If the rumors are true, Jack Z would have had to exclaim that JUp was going to be our savior, when in all actuality, we don’t know what Upton would have done in Seattle. To get rid of Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and Charlie Furbush… I would have gone insane. I see two of these guys being dealt this offseason, but not in this deal. I’ll explain that after some stats crunching.

Here’s a Player A/Player B comparison of two Major League players.

Player A: .259/.316/.423, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 35 2B, 13 SB, 42% BB:K ratio

Player B: .280/.355./.430, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 24 2B, 18 SB, 52% BB:K ratio

Player B is Justin Upton last season, while Player A is our very own Mr. Seager.

There are some major differences that I believe could bring Seager up to JUp’s level next season. First off, the batting average. Seager hit 21 points lower than Upton in his first FULL season as a starter. There’s no reason to believe that Kyle will hit lower than .270 this upcoming season. Secondly, Seager nearly matched the power output of Upton. JUp’s slugging is higher due to hitting three more triples and having more singles during the season than Kyle did. In assuming that every stolen base accounts for second base, Seager ended up on second base four more times than JUp did as well. Of course, that is outlandish and either of them could have taken third but in the long run, Seager ended up with more extra base hits over the course of the season. So I ask myself… why would we try to bring in another Seager for THAT price?

Well, Seager was clearly the offensive MVP of the season last year and the Mariners like his style of play.

In using Major League Equivalencies (MLE), I took a look at what Upton might do in Seattle with last year’s numbers. (Mind you that there is no Park Factor for the new fences yet.)

Upton would have hit .271/.351/.414 line. That lowers his strength and his average. Old Safeco will do that to you. Due to that, he hits one less triple, one less home run, and ends up with the same type of season as the year before. Safeco plays a little bigger than Chase Field does, but not by much.

For fun, I punched Seager’s numbers in for Arizona and he ends up with a .272/.330/.444 line, which is more of what I believe we will see from Seager this year as he matures.

In the long run, we didn’t need another outfielder in our already packed outfield. What he need is a power hitting versatile player, such as Mike Morse.

I feel as if now that Upton has passed, we can focus on Morse and deal Furbush and Franklin that way and maybe even come out with a lower level minors player or some cash as well. Morse has already been in Seattle in the past and would play well with his doubles power and ability to play the corners and first base.

Will this happen? Who knows… am I over the JUp speculation? Absolutely.